The objectives and goals of the SBU may be stated in terms of activities (manufacturing a specific product, selling in a particular market); financial indicators (achieving targeted return on investment); desired positions (market share, quality leadership); and combinations of these factors. Generally, an SBU has a series of objectives to cater to the interests of different stakeholders. One way of organizing objectives is to split them into the following classes: measurement objectives, growth/survival objectives, and constraint objectives. It must be emphasized that objectives and goals should not be based just on facts but on values and feelings as well. What facts should one look at? How should they be weighed and related to one another? It is in seeking answers to such questions that value judgments become crucial.
The perspectives of an SBU determine how far an objective can be broken down into minute details. If the objective applies to a number of products, only broad statements of objectives that specify the role of each product/market from the vantage point of the SBU are feasible. On the other hand, when an SBU is created around one or two products, objectives may be stated in detail.
Exhibit 8-4 illustrates how SBU objectives and goals can be identified and split into three groups: measurement, growth/survival, and constraint. Measurement objectives and goals define an SBU's aims from the point of view of the stockholders. The word profit has been traditionally used instead of measurement. But, as is widely recognized today, a corporation has several corporate publics besides stockholders; therefore, it is erroneous to use the word profit. On the other hand, the company's very existence and its ability to serve different stakeholders depend on financial viability. Thus, profit constitutes an important measurement objective. To emphasize the real significance of profit, it is more appropriate to label it as a measurement tool.
It will be useful here to draw a distinction between corporate objectives and measurement objectives and goals at the level of an SBU. Corporate objectives define the company's outlook for various stakeholders as a general concept, but the SBU's objectives and goals are specific statements. For example, keeping the environment clean may be a corporate objective. Using this corporate objective as a basis, in a particular time frame an SBU may define prevention of water pollution as one of its objectives. In other words, it is not necessary to repeat the company's obligation to various stakeholders in defining an SBU's objectives as this is already covered in the corporate objectives. Objectives and goals should underline the areas that need to be covered during the time horizon of planning.
Growth objectives and goals, with their implicit references to getting ahead, are accepted as normal goals in a capitalistic system. Thus, companies often aim at growth. Although measurements are usually stated in financial terms, growth is described with reference to the market. Constraint objectives and goals depend on the internal environment of the company and how it wishes to interact with the outside world.
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